In a Terrible Tangle

A Baltimore Oriole struggles after getting stuck in tangled nest materials

The male Baltimore Oriole hopped onto the nest-in-process.

I was watching the early days of oriole nest construction. The male stopped by periodically, but not to weave, because the female does all the work. He would hop in, poke his beak at a few strings, and hop out. Cornell’s Birds of the World explains that when the male visits the nest, it’s usually to inspect his mate’s handiwork. And based on what I saw, he often messed it up, yanking out stitches as he fumbled in the tangled web of string.

But one day—the third day of construction—I watched in horror as the male, dubbed Lord Baltimore, didn’t just tug on the stringy nest material.

He got himself stuck.


Lord Baltimore’s efforts to disentangle himself can only be described as Herculean. Here’s what I saw (sorry about the bobbing video, but the branches were moving wildly in the wind).

Apparently unfazed by this experience, Lord Baltimore continued to make inspection trips until the nest neared completion. Sometimes, he unraveled a bit of Lady Baltimore’s weaving. But he managed to stay out of harm’s way.

I’m left wondering: Is nest-making that dangerous… or are we looking at first-year amateurs, and the male just needs to polish his inspection technique?

2 thoughts on “In a Terrible Tangle”

Post a Comment